|Smart ways to buy local fruits, vegetables
by Karen Kemper
It’s likely that the food in your grocery cart may have traveled more
in the past year to reach your plate than you have for vacation.
Produce in our supermarkets travels an estimated 1,500 miles before
being consumed. One study conducted by The Leopold Center for
Sustainable Agriculture examined the distance traveled by 16 everyday
produce items coming from conventional sources, compared to local
sources. The distance from place of production to place of sale
for the items was 25,301 miles when coming from conventional
sources, and only 716 miles when coming from local sources. Buying
local allows you to support your community and gives you the security
of knowing where your food was grown.
Since the first day of spring was March 20, now is the time for the
Charleston area farmer’s markets to sell the summer foods the
Lowcountry has to offer.
Tips to help you buy local this summer
- Start with familiar foods. Since the selection
of items may vary, go in with a general idea of what you need and look
for foods you are familiar with cooking. For example, buy the
ingredients for a salad, some fresh vegetables for side dishes, or
fruit to pack with lunch. Also, try to have an idea of how much food
you will use in a week to avoid buying excess that will spoil before
you use it. As you become comfortable, branch out and try a few
unfamiliar products. You might discover a new favorite.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you see a
fruit or vegetable you can’t identify or do not know how to prepare,
ask the vendor. They often can give you recipes. Also, don’t be afraid
to ask how they grow their crops. Some people think local is synonymous
with organic, which is not the case. This is not necessarily good or
bad, but by asking you will likely learn something new and become even
more familiar with where your food came from.
- Time your trip right. Find out when all the
local markets are open, and see which one fits best with your schedule.
To ensure the best selection and avoid the crowd during peak times like
the weekend, arrive early. On the other hand, by going at the end of
the day, you may be able to negotiate with the vendors and go home with
- Carry cash and bring your own reusable bags.
Local farmer’s markets
- MUSC Farmer’s Market: open year-round every
Friday in the Horseshoe, 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. or until it slows down.
Look for more farmers to return this spring on Fridays at the
Horseshoe, Charleston Memorial (in the grassy area in back, next to the
parking garage and Ashley River Tower), and at Harborview Office Tower.
- Marion Square Farmer’s Market: opens from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays beginning April 3
- North Charleston Farmer’s Market at Park
Circle’s Felix C. Davis Community Center: from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursdays
and opens mid-April
- Mount Pleasant Farmers Market Pavilion on
Coleman Boulevard (Moultrie Middle School grounds): from 3 p.m. to
dark, Tuesdays beginning April 13.
Friday, March 26, 2010